Tag: south side of Chicago

After Almost a Decade of Activism and Protests, Chicago’s South Side Finally Has an Adult Trauma Center Again

After years of protest, amid an epidemic of gun violence, a Level 1 adult trauma center has opened in Chicago’s South Side. (Credit: Rob Hart)

by Daniel A. Gross via newyorker.com

In August, 2010, an eighteen-year-old named Damian Turner, an aspiring musician and community organizer, was caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting on Chicago’s South Side. The bullet entered his body four blocks—one minute by car—from the University of Chicago Medical Center. But paramedics, following protocol, drove him nearly nine miles away, to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. City and state regulations dictate that gunshot victims be taken to a specialized trauma center, and the South Side was a “trauma desert.” Despite its epidemic of gun violence, it has not had its own Level 1 adult trauma center since the nineteen-nineties. At Northwest Memorial, Turner, the co-founder of the youth branch of Southside Together Organizing for Power, or stop, was pronounced dead.

Turner’s death marked the beginning of a movement. His mother told newspapers that he would have lived if not for the university’s lack of facilities. One of Turner’s fellow-activists, Brittany Blaney, suggested at a community meeting that locals hold the U.C.M.C. accountable. A hundred people marched to the hospital from the spot where Turner was shot. A year later, protesters camped out in tents. They argued that the U.C.M.C. had shirked its responsibility to its neighborhood. But university officials resisted. “You would have to transfer resources from the other things we do, and the things we do extraordinarily well and not a lot of other people do, and focus those resources on being an additional trauma center,” a spokesman for the medical center said at the time. Alex Goldenberg, now the executive director of stop, told me, “It took us two years just to get them to acknowledge that it was a problem.” Sharon O’Keefe, the president of the hospital, said, “We were obviously well aware of the community that we reside in. But it took us quite a period of time to really evaluate the broader needs of the community.”

One of the activists’ demands was that the university, which operated a pediatric trauma center, raise the age limit on admittance for children with gunshot wounds. In December, 2014, the university announced that it would raise the limit by two years, to include anyone younger than eighteen. This was a start. A few months later, during the university’s Alumni Weekend, Goldenberg and eight others locked themselves inside a university administration building. The fire department had to cut its way in with axes.

O’Keefe told me that, around that time, the hospital was considering “a more comprehensive plan that was more responsive to the demands of the community,” but it needed a way to cover the costs. “What we didn’t want to do was come up with a short-term response,” she told me. In September, 2015, the university announced plans to co-found a trauma center at Holy Cross Hospital, west of U.C.M.C. But officials soon realized that it would be too costly to help run a new facility five miles away. Finally, the following December, Goldenberg got an unexpected call from a university vice-president. “I have good news for you,” he said. The medical center had decided to open a Level 1 adult trauma center on campus.

The new center opens on May 1st. One of the doctors who will work there is Abdullah Pratt, a resident in emergency medicine. We first met about a year after the university announced its intention to open the trauma center, in a nearly empty U.C.M.C. waiting area, just after sunrise. Pratt, who has a thick beard and wears horn-rimmed glasses, had been working at the hospital since six o’clock the previous evening, and he looked it. He had seen patients with liver failure, vaginal bleeding, and cancer. “This is my fifth straight overnight shift,” he said. But he had stuck around to tell me about the trauma center, and the years of community activism that helped make it happen.

Pratt grew up on the South Side, just south of the hospital, which makes him extremely unusual among University of Chicago medical students and faculty. His was a neighborhood of both poverty and promise, shared by lawyers, athletes, gang members, and drug addicts. One of his friends was shot and killed after he bumped into a man’s girlfriend at a club, spilling her drink. “Everybody’s got a closet full of T-shirts with their friends or family members on it,” he said. Following in the footsteps of his brother Rashad, Pratt attended science camps and played high-school football. He went to college at Valparaiso. By the time he entered medical school, he was living in a high-rise apartment on the edge of Lake Michigan. Once, he showed it off to his brother, who reminded him of the importance of giving back to his community. “Never sell out,” Rashad told him. “You ain’t gonna be shit if you don’t put on for your block.”

Seven months later, Pratt got a call from his mother about Rashad. “He been shot,” she told him. “He’s killed.” Rashad had been sitting in his truck, in front of a friend’s house, when a stranger approached him with a gun. Rashad owned a handgun and tried to defend himself, but he was shot below the ribs, and the bullet hit his heart. “I don’t think that the pain will ever get as bad as that,” Pratt told me. “I know that there’s nobody immune from it. Every young person that I mentor, every one of my friends, has lost somebody. It’s a collective pain.”

After the shooting, Pratt considered taking a break from school. But he thought about his brother’s commitment to giving back, and he listened to a mentor who told him, “You have to use this.” Although a local trauma center would not have saved Rashad’s life, Pratt knew that it could save many others. “I began fighting for those issues, and stopping violence, and going to more of the community demonstrations,” he said. He eventually met with university officials, including O’Keefe, and tried to serve as a mediator between frustrated community members and the U.C.M.C. bureaucracy. “It was literally the only thing that allowed me to sleep at night,” he said.

Chicago first standardized its trauma-center network after the shooting death of another young black man, Benji Wilson, in 1984. Wilson was a seventeen-year-old basketball star. He was shot twice, in Chatham, on the South Side. He died after a long wait for an ambulance and a belated surgery at a local hospital that did not specialize in trauma. Several South Side institutions, including the University of Chicago, subsequently opened adult trauma centers. But trauma care is costly, serves patients who are not always able to pay, and receives little government support. The U.C.M.C. trauma center, which opened in 1986, was a financial failure, and it closed in 1988. “Then we got out of the business,” O’Keefe told me. Within a few years, every Level 1 adult trauma center on the South Side had shut down. In 2013, a study of Chicago gunshot victims showed that those who were shot more than five miles from a trauma center were disproportionately black and uninsured. Not surprisingly, they died at higher rates than other gunshot victims.

Selwyn Rogers, who was hired to direct the new adult trauma center, said he was initially surprised when he learned the U.C.M.C. didn’t already have one. But he hopes that the center can reduce the stark inequality between the university and its surroundings. He pointed out that Hyde Park, the university’s immediate neighborhood, has a life expectancy of more than eighty years. “Literally within a mile of where the University of Chicago sits, in Washington Park, the life expectancy is sixty-nine,” he said.

In addition to building a new emergency department, the U.C.M.C. has hired eighteen medical faculty and numerous staff members, so that patients have around-the-clock access to specialized care.

To read full article, go to: https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/chicagos-south-side-finally-has-an-adult-trauma-center-again

Federal Court Awards Robert Smith $2.4M for Enduring Five Years of Racial, Sexual Harassment from Co-Workers

Rosebud Farms (photo via eurweb.com)
Rosebud Farms (photo via eurweb.com)

A Chicago federal court has awarded Robert Smith more than $2.4 million in damages for enduring five years of humiliating sexual and racial harassment at a South Side grocery store.

The Cook County Record stated that Rosebud Farm Stand was ordered to pay Smith more than $800,000 in compensatory damages and $1.6 million in punitive damages for racial and sexual harassment. Smith also named two supervisors, general manager Carlos Castaneda and assistant manager Rocky Mendoza, in the lawsuit. They were both ordered to pay damages.

Smith, who is African-American, worked as a butcher at the grocery store, claims he was subjected to abuse from his Latino co-workers. Smith said that his co-workers harassed him by grabbing his genitals, fondling his buttocks and simulating homoerotic acts.

However, the harassment was not only sexual. Smith’s attorney Joseph Longo, of Longo & Associates, said his co-workers also called him a “monkey” and told him to “go back to Africa.”

Smith filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2008, but the harassment turned violent. The Cook County Record said Smith alleged his co-workers made threatening gestures towards him and also vandalized his car. The harassment got so bad that Smith eventually quit.

Smith decided to file a lawsuit requesting unspecified damages in 2011.

Longo said other Black employees at the grocery store were also subject to harassment, but declined to come forward. He said victims of racial and sexual harassment have to report the incidents, so they can be addressed in a court of law.

“Unless people file a lawsuit or take action, harassers will continue to create a hostile working environment and harass,” Longo said in an emailed statement following the verdict. “We need more people like Mr. Smith to take a stand and fight for what is right. The jury agreed that what Rosebud did to Mr. Smith was wrong.”

Longo told The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin that Smith’s employer failed to provide a safe work environment. Eight jurors agreed with Longo’s argument.

“I think the jury wanted to send a message,” Longo said. “When you go to work, you don’t surrender your body.”

article by Manny Otiko via atlanticblackstar.com

Obama Taps Studio Museum of Harlem Curator Thelma Golden to Join Board of Presidential Library

Thelma Golden: Director and Chief Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem Photo: Patrick McMullan
Thelma Golden: Director and Chief Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem (Photo: Patrick McMullan)

Thelma Golden, former curator at the Whitney Museum and current director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, has been picked by President Barack Obama to join the board of the Obama Foundation. Her role will be to plan the presidential library at the Barack Obama Presidential Center in the South Side of Chicago, a museum and library for Obama’s life, presidency, and legacy.

Other new members of the board include John Doerr, a venture capitalist who was on Obama’s USA Economic Recovery Advisory Board and Julianna Smoot, the former White House Social Secretary and Deputy Assistant to the President. Both Smoot and Doerr have played vital roles in fundraising for Obama, reports the Observer.

During Golden’s 15-year tenure at The Studio Museum (she has been the director for the past 10 years) the museum has seen immense visitor growth and international acclaim. She will also oversee a $122 million expansion. Golden is lauded for organizing pioneering exhibitions of African-American artists, raising profiles of important artists such as Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, and Chris Ofili, and turning the museum into a cultural focal point in Harlem.

“I am very much looking forward to joining the Board of Directors, and working to make the Obama Presidential Center a hub for creative expression through the arts,” Golden said in a statement on the foundation’s website. “The South Side of Chicago has historically been the nexus of several important cultural movements for African-Americans, and I believe the new Center will help usher in a new era of community engagement for this extraordinary neighborhood.”

According to the website, the Foundation “will inspire the next generation of young leaders all over the world. It will convene the brightest minds with the newest ideas from across the political spectrum, and draw strength from the rich diversity and vitality of Chicago, the city it calls home.”

article by Christie Chu via news.artnet.com

First Lady Michelle Obama Shares Holiday Traditions in “Ladies’ Home Journal” Cover Story

First lady Michelle Obama on the cover of 'Ladies' Home Journal'
First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover of ‘Ladies’ Home Journal.’ (Ladies’ Home Journal)

First Lady Michelle Obama has shared her family’s favorite holiday traditions with Ladies’ Home Journal for this month’s cover story  In a piece called Christmas at the White House, Mrs. Obama reveals the holiday tunes and cooking activities she and her closest loved ones enjoy to make the season bright.  “The sounds of Christmas in the Obama White House mean James Taylor, Mariah Carey and Nat King Cole,” reports New York’s Daily News about how America’s Mom-in-Chief sets a seasonal mood.

Christmas at the White House is certainly a grand experience compared to Michelle Obama’s humble holidays with her mother, father and brother growing up in the South Side of Chicago. Even though they were of working class means, Christmas was enriched through her mother’s loving attentiveness.  “Christmas has always been a special time in my household. Growing up, we lived in a little-bitty apartment, but my mom put her heart and soul into decorating that house,” she remembers. “She would take cardboard and make a chimney over our radiator because she wanted us to feel like we had something for Santa Claus to come down.”

In addition to sharing personal family memories, the first lady dazzles in the photo shoot accompanying the piece in a golden brocade dress that shows off her amazing arms.

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14 Year-Old Thessalonika Arzu-Embry To Earn Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Chicago State University

At just 14, Thessalonika Arzu-Embry will be graduating Chicago State University in August with a bachelor's degree in psychology. A resident of the Great Lakes Naval Base, Thessalonika plans to continue her studies in a graduate program before opening a clinic with her mother.
At just 14, Thessalonika Arzu-Embry will be graduating Chicago State University in August with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. A resident of the Great Lakes Naval Base, Thessalonika plans to continue her studies in a graduate program before opening a clinic with her mother.

Thessalonika Arzu-Embry and her mother, Wonder Embry, get up at five in the morning most weekdays to go to school together.  Unlike most 14-year-olds, however, Thessalonika isn’t off early in the morning to the local high school. She’s going to Chicago State University.

Thessalonika is putting the finishing touches on a college career that started three years ago at College of Lake County and will end next month with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Chicago State.  “My college experience is a traditional college experience for me — it is just that I have completed it faster,” Thessalonika said. “I am very excited about joining others in having the opportunity to contribute to society in a significant way.”

After their early wake-up, Thessalonika and her mom pray and work on Bible studies, then work out at a local fitness center before starting their hour-and-a-half commute from their home at the Great Lakes Naval Station near North Chicago to Chicago State, located on the city’s South Side. Wonder Embry is a classmate of sorts at Chicago State, where she’s a graduate student in clinical psychology.

During the commute, Wonder and Thessalonika study theory together and chat about their homework assignments. Thessalonika said her mother keeps her motivated.  “My mother is a strong inspiration to my success. She is a veteran of the United States Navy, and when she finished her tour, she home-schooled my brother and I,” Thessalonika said.  Thessalonika’s mother said that for her part, she was just doing right by her daughter.  “The parents are the most influential force in their own children’s lives, and they have the power to influence them to do good and to go forward,” Wonder Embry said.

Thessalonika was home-schooled until she was 8. At age 11, after receiving the equivalent of a high school diploma through her home schooling, she passed an entrance exam to attend College of Lake County and enrolled to study psychology.  She said she chose college from such a young age because she loves studying and has an interest in psychology that goes far beyond just material knowledge. One of her ultimate goals is to help people through a clinic she hopes to establish with her mother and her brother, Jeremy.

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Former Foster Child and Morehouse Graduate Derrius Quarles Recognized by White House for Service to Community

Derrius Quarles (center); Michelle Nunn, the CEO of Points of Light (right); and Washington Post CEO Donald Graham at the 5000th Daily Point of Light Award at the White House on Monday June 15, 2013 (photo credit Jerome Dorn)
Derrius Quarles (center); Michelle Nunn, the CEO of Points of Light (right); and Washington Post CEO Donald Graham at the 5000th Daily Point of Light Award at the White House on Monday June 15, 2013 (photo credit Jerome Dorn)

A former foster child from the south side of Chicago has turned entrepreneur, and been recognized at the White House for his inspiring work.  Derrius Quarles, who is only 22 years old, is best known for winning more than $1 million in financial-aid to attend the prestigious Morehouse College.  He was a recipient of the Daily Point of Light Award in June 2013 for his commitment to help academically gifted yet economically disadvantaged students overcome financial barriers to higher education.

“I feel honored and humbled to be recognized by the White House as a Daily Point of Light awardee,” said Quarles. “I have been recognized for the work I have done with the Million Dollar Scholar, which has advanced economic access to higher education for youth in inner cities across the United States.”  The Million Dollar Scholar initiative has assisted more than 10,000 high school students online and helped students receive more than $950,000 in scholarships and grants.

In fact, Quarles’s drive to see other young people succeed is deeply personal. His father was murdered in Chicago when he was just 4 years old. One year later, he was taken from his mother’s custody and placed in foster care.  It was only when he entered high school that he made a conscious decision to seize opportunities to move on with his life.

Continue reading “Former Foster Child and Morehouse Graduate Derrius Quarles Recognized by White House for Service to Community”